Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/1/2017 (1772 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Calin Rovinescu, the CEO of Air Canada, came to Winnipeg riding a recent record-breaking financial performance for the airline and its $14-billion-per-year operation.
That may be why his speech at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce event was light on humility and absent any concern Air Canada may not be meeting its obligations regarding a Western Canada Centre of Excellence for aerospace.
Air Canada promised the centre last year in exchange for the Manitoba government withdrawing from a lawsuit against the airline for violating the Air Canada Public Participation Act.
However, all that has materialized to date are commitments from a pair of Air Canada suppliers — Hope Aero and Airbase Services — to set up small operations in hangar space that once housed the heavy maintenance operations of Air Canada Technical Services, and subsequently Aveos Fleet Performance, where more than 600 high-paid, highly skilled aircraft technicians once worked.
Rovinescu said Air Canada has committed to providing work for Hope and Airbase in facilities Air Canada upgraded at its expense.
"Additionally, we have agreed to lease hangar space on favourable terms to another of our partners, Cargojet Airways, so it can maintain its aircraft locally, assuming it is able to come to terms with the government of Manitoba," he said in his speech.
In a question-and-answer session later with Barry Rempel, CEO of the Winnipeg Airports Authority, Rovinescu said, "If we seed two companies, that seed could result in something better."
The Free Press has reported those two companies intend to start operations in Winnipeg this year with a total of eight employees.
Rovinescu said, "Good private-sector jobs can only be created when a company enjoys a welcoming fiscal environment, a strong commitment by government to build infrastructure, a willing and engaged business community, competitive labour rates and talent."
He said he’s confident a centre can develop "if these principles are respected and realistic expectations are set."
Rovinescu did not take questions from reporters, but Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said, "Calin said it very clearly. We have met our commitments. We have fulfilled our obligations. We have done the lease. We have signed the lease with AirBase and Hope. That is what we have committed to. You need to ask the government and Cargojet what they need to take it forward and what the government can do."
Cargojet was not available to comment Thursday and has declined to address its intentions regarding a Winnipeg base for the better part of a year.
Cliff Cullen, Manitoba’s minister of growth, enterprise and trade, would only say "creative" solutions are being sought with Cargojet.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.